'You're living in a dream land': Counterterrorism expert warns terror attack in Australia 'inevitable'

A counterterrorism expert has warned a terrorist attack in Australia is inevitable.

While appearing on Q&A, David Kilcullen was asked whether Australia’s approach to dealing with Islamic State was ‘too cautious’.

“It is inevitable that we are going to see some kind of terrorist attack here in Australia,” Mr Kilcullen responded.

“I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I think we have to be realistic that if you think the Government can protect you from any kind of terrorist attack, you are living in dream land.

David Kilcullen says a terrorist attack in Australia is 'inevitable'
David Kilcullen says a terrorist attack in Australia is 'inevitable'

“Just like these things happen in other countries, they will inevitably happen in Australia also.”

Mr Kilcullen said we needed to address the issue carefully.

“It’s worth remembering that the people we are dealing with, ISIS’ specialisation is provoking sectarian conflict and getting different groups of people fighting each other so they can exploit that.

“So while we do want to take a hard hand towards terrorism, it’s really important to ensure we are not accidentally generating the kinds of dynamics that give rise to that sectarian conflict at the same time.”

Raihan Ismail disagreed with Kilcullen’s prediction and felt the threat was ‘exaggerated’.

“Australia is very different. I think multiculturalism is a good model in Australia, and we need to reinstate the spirit of multiculturalism in this country.

“When you look at Muslims in Australia, what’s the population? 2.2 per cent. It is a small number and Muslims in this country are better integrated compared to some of the European countries, for example, so we can’t really exaggerate the threat of terrorist attacks happening in Australia.”

Eldad Beck weighed in saying it was important to remember “the number one victim of ISIS are Muslims.”

He said this was not only a West issue, but had bigger global impact, particularly in the Middle East.

When asked about the use of drones to kill terrorist leaders, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said it was a legitimate thing for Australian governments to do.

“The Australian Government doesn’t participate in that directly, but our allies do, and we support them in those goals,” Keenan said.

“A drone is no different from an aircraft, just happens to deliver its payload in a very different way and I would be keen to do whatever we can do stay on top of this enemy.”

Kilcullen stressed Australian aircraft had a reputation for avoiding civilian casualties, and not dropping bombs if they were unsure of the outcome.

Keenan was also questioned about his policy to run countering violent extremism programs in schools to highlight kids at risk of radicalisation.

He was questioned as to how children as young as six could be identified as potential terrorists.

“What we are doing is training people who are on the frontline, such as teachers and others in the school community, to identify the sorts of signs that students might be exhibiting if they are moving down this dark path of violence and radicalisation,” Keenana responded, referring to Curtis Cheng, who was shot down by a teen in October outside Parramatta police headquarters.

“We also know that ISIL is targeting people younger and younger. They were initially targeting people in their 20s, then those in their late teens, and we now know, because we have good information about this, they are targeting people in their early teens.”

“The earlier we can intervene, identify that, the earlier we can save this child from this awful path of violence.”